More than 400 hurt in French fuel price protests: minister

Demonstrators block a motorway exit to protest fuel taxes in Marseille southern France Saturday Nov. 17 2018. French interior ministry officials say that one protester has been killed and and more than 40 injured as demonstrators block roads around Fr

Claude Paris Associated Press Demonstrators block a motorway exit to protest fuel taxes in Marseille southern France

Leticia Leclercq, unemployed mother of two, holds a banner reading "Stop privileges, lower the taxes" during a demonstration of Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) against the rising of the fuel and oil prices on November 17, 2018, in Le Boulou near the border with Spain.

The protests, largely orchestrated on social media and which aimed to prevent road access to some fuel depots and airports, have also drawn broader support from some voters dissatisfied with Mr Macron's economic reforms and his governing style.

In the eastern Savoie region, authorities said a woman trying to get her daughter to a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded her auto and banged on the roof.

Three people were seriously injured and 44 others were slightly injured, ministry officials said.

Although most of the blockades were carried out without incident, tempers flared at times as some drivers confronted the protesters or tried to force their way through.

Police questioned 282 protesters in total, 73 during the night, of which 157 were taken into custody.

"There are just too many taxes in France", said Veronique Lestrade, a demonstrator on the outskirts of Paris, who said her family was struggling to make ends meet.

"They have sent a message", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. "There were fights among ´yellow vest´ protesters".

In Paris, protesters holding "Macron resign!" signs and singing the national anthem partially blocked the Champs Elysees in the heart of the French capital.

While it was unclear if the weekend's momentum would continue, the movement is posing a challenge to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Recently they surged after petrol prices went up and now they have evolved into a wider movement against President Emmanuel Macron's government.

"Macron is the president of the rich and not the poor". But, in an attempt to assuage protesters' concerns, the government last week announced it would offer energy subsidies and a grant of €4,000 ($4,600) for poorer families to replace older, less fuel-efficient vehicles.

In a TV interview this week, Macron admitted he had "not succeeded in reconciling the French with their leaders" and that "we have probably not given them enough consideration".

In a similar scenario, police cleared out the huge traffic circle around the Arc de Triomphe, paralyzed for hours by protesters.

The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s, AFP news agency reports.

The taxes are part of Macron's strategy to wean France off fossil fuels.

"The goal isn't to create havoc but to get our rights back".

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